‘A lot’ spent to service BN govt’s loans

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SERDANG — The Pakatan Harapan federal government has used “a lot” of public money to repay loans taken by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.

However, he did not disclose the amount or if his administration had touched the RM18 billion from a trust account set up to refund the Goods and Services Tax (GST) claims from businesses, that has become a point of contention with the previous government led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“A lot money had gone to servicing loans and retiring loans … and people expect free money from us,” Dr Mahathir told reporters when asked if the PH government had used money from the refund account to pay for some of its expenditure.

“This is a habit developed by Najib, that is to give money to the people freely.”

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said RM18 billion in input tax credit under the GST system since 2015 had gone “missing” from the trust account.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi rejected Lim’s assertion, saying the money could have been used for other approved development projects instead.

Ahmad Zahid addedthat if the funds were diverted and approved in the budget, the incumbent government could just table a supplementary supply Bill to bridge the funds rather than “accuse” the previous administration.

Najib, who was also the finance minister in the previous government, responded by accusing his successor of making a baseless, politically-driven statement on the RM18 billion.

The police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission are investigating the matter.